Be Active Your Way Blog
Shellie Pfohl has spent her career focusing on teaming government with nonprofits and the private sector and as Executive Director of the PCFSN, she manages the activities and operations of the President's Council, an advisory committee to the President and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, a designation bestowed since 1983 and celebrated by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition (PCFSN). Organizations including schools, public health agencies, and worksites celebrate the month to promote awareness of the value of physical activity in pursuit of happier, healthier, more productive lives. Celebrations and recognition weeks and days throughout May target specific activities or populations, such as:
May 1-7—National Physical Education and Sport Week
May 9-13—National Women's Health Week
May 18—National Employee Health and Fitness Day
May 16-20—National Bike to Work Week
May 20—Bike to Work Day
The PCFSN kicked off its celebration of the month on Monday, May 9th, at the White House. PCFSN members joined the First Lady on the South Lawn to announce a partnership between the Council, Let’s Move!, Joining Forces, the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) and the American Council on Exercise (ACE) that will provide free fitness club memberships and personal training sessions to immediate family members of actively deployed reservists and National Guard members.
Following the announcement, Council members led a South Lawn Series event for families of National Guard members and reservists who were in attendance for the announcement. The First Lady kicked off the fun, participating with the members and day’s honorees in a series of stations that included an obstacle course, dance and ball toss stations among others.
On Tuesday, May 10th, Council members gathered again for an open meeting. Approximately 120 people came to hear about the Council members’ activities. The afternoon featured presentations from individuals making a difference in physical education and school-based physical activity opportunities in their communities.
After the meeting adjourned, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the board members of the National Foundation on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. The Foundation was Congressionally‐chartered in December to help cultivate private sector partnerships and funding for key programs and initiatives of PCFSN.
Such activities may include special initiatives, such as the Million PALA Challenge. Launched last September, promotion and participation in the Million PALA Challenge is picking up steam as President’s Challenge advocates continue to roll out the initiative to their constituents and members.
The month of May presents the perfect opportunity for kids and adults across the country to make their commitment to be regularly active. Sign up at www.millionpalachallenge.org to take on the President’s Challenge and learn to be active your way.
What are you doing this month to help get America moving?
Tags: Physical Activity Month, celebrating, fitness, South Lawn Series, PALA challenge
Earlier this month, I had the privilege of attending one of the largest electronics shows in the world—the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada and experiencing the latest and greatest in active gaming. While we often associate technology with sedentary living as we text, email, or watch a screen, it can also be a tool for good. Active gaming is one way technology can encourage and promote physical activity and meet youth and adults wherever they are on the ability spectrum.
The Healthy People 2020 physical activity objectives include measures for screen time with the goal of limiting television or video game exposure to no more than 2 hours a day for youth ages 2-18 years old. However, that does not mean that the allotted 2 hours cannot include some active gaming—like active options that may be part of a comprehensive physical education curriculum.
Before attending CES I had an opportunity to see first-hand how active gaming can play a role in physical education at Kenny Guinn Middle School. Nestled within the 5th largest school district in the Nation, their physical education classes use active gaming as a way to help integrate special needs students with their peers. When the teacher asked who was excited to do some active gaming, everyone yelled “Me!” As the students rotated through the stations, I had the opportunity to work out with them. Very soon I realized that I couldn’t tell who was ‘challenged’ or not. To me they were all excited kids being active…jumping, kicking, and punching. No one was singled out or separated and each student participated to the best of their ability. And not only were they doing active gaming but they also learned about body mass index (BMI) by using bio impedence machines and ipods.
Keeping a level playing field is important as we work towards meeting the goals outlined in Healthy People 2020. Active gaming is a great way to meet youth where they are and is a fun way to promote sustained movement regardless of one’s age, fitness level or ability. After all, if my 88-year-old grandmother can play a bowling videogame and love it, I know I can too!
So, what is your favorite active game? And where do you see fitness technology taking us in the future?
**Image Caption: Shellie Pfohl, Executive Director of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition getting her daily dose of physical activity the active gaming way with the students of Kenny Guinn Middle School, Las Vegas, NV.
www.pedbikeimages.org by Andy Hamilton
If you lived in a neighborhood where gunshots rang out every day and drug dealers loitered on your street every night, would you let your kids outside to play? Well, you’re not alone.
One of the reasons our children are not getting the minimum amount of physical activity they need is that physical education has been carved out of our schools, and many youth live in high-crime neighborhoods where their parents are afraid to let them go outside. So it’s no wonder that the national childhood obesity rate, especially in impoverished and underserved communities, has skyrocketed over the last 30 years and has now reached epidemic proportions.
A report conducted by the Trust for Public Land revealed that “crime drops when adequate parks and recreational activities are available in inner-city neighborhoods.” Many examples can be found in cities and towns throughout America where policymakers, law enforcement officials, community leaders, and residents have joined together with the park service and recreation facility owner-operators to take back their neighborhoods and make them safe.
Every summer in Phoenix, basketball courts and rec centers are kept open until 2 a.m. to encourage residents to be active with their neighbors. The city of Phoenix found that during the summer months, calls to police reporting juvenile crime incidents drop by as much as 55 percent.
Researchers at Columbia University reported that Boys or Girls Clubs in public housing projects reduced crime rates by 13 percent and drug use by more than 20 percent. Juveniles between the ages of 10-16 year olds who have a mentor, which is an important component of a quality after-school program like those of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, are 46 percent less likely to use drugs and 27 percent less likely to start drinking alcohol.
So we cannot afford for our kids to sit home and play sedentary video games after school. We must give them opportunities to participate in physical activity and make better food choices throughout the day. It is proven that physical activity and good nutrition help children perform better academically by increasing concentration and energy levels and boosting self confidence. Physical activity also hones their socialization skills, which enable young people to identify with peers, succeed in college or a vocation, and live happier and healthier lives.
That is why the President’s Council works closely with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to connect the public and private sectors with non-profit organizations and encourage them to develop sustainable programs to fight childhood obesity. Through the “Million PALA Challenge”—a joint physical activity campaign to get one million Americans to earn their Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) by September 2011—and initiatives like Let’s Move! Cities and Towns and Let’s Move Outside, we will make great strides to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic one child, one family and one community at time. For more information, visit www.fitness.gov.
Williamson, D. (May 2000). Study: Crime, lack of PE, recreation programs lead U.S. adolescents to couch-potato lifestyles. UNC News Services. Retrieved from http://www.unc.edu/news/archives/jun00/popkin6060500.htm
The Trust for Public Land. (n.d.) Why we must invest in urban parks. Retrieved from http://www.tpl.org/tier3_cdl.cfm?content_item_id=888&folder_id=728
Riley, R., Peterson, T., Kanter, A., Moreno, G., & Goode, W. (2000). Afterschool programs: Keeping children safe and smart. Washington, DC: Child Trends.
Tags: President’s Council Physical Activity, Million PALA Challenge
This page last updated on: 11/04/2009
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